As the lead partner for MINDFUL EMPLOYER in the city, Leeds Mind has a responsibility to demonstrate its commitment to the aspirations of the MINDFUL EMPLOYER charter.
The charity works hard to implement progressive recruitment practices, such as involving the people who access its services in recruitment and selection (and providing training to those who sit on interview panels).
“Up to 50% of the staff at Leeds Mind experience mental health difficulties”
Up to 50% of the staff at Leeds Mind has had experience of mental health difficulties, and the charity promotes an open culture where team-members feel safe and supported when discussing their experiences of mental ill-health.
Peer support is now embedded as an integral part of Leeds Mind’s approach to delivering services. This means that across housing support, wellbeing, community arts and employment services, people with real-life experience of coping with a mental health difficulty are involved in designing and delivering the service.
Leeds Mind actively encourages staff to identify reasonable adjustments at the recruitment stage and also as an ongoing measure to retain valued team members with health conditions or disabilities. Reasonable adjustments are discussed and reviewed regularly as part of the appraisal process. However, the charity does not ask people to disclose health conditions until after a job offer has been made.
Everyone who works at Leeds Mind is encouraged to take a ‘wellbeing hour’ as part of their working week. This can involve going for a walk, doing a yoga class, practising mindfulness or gardening….it’s up to the individual to choose what to do. Included in staff mandatory training is a half-day resilience workshop, delivered by the peer support team, which supports participants to focus on positively enhancing their mental wellbeing.
Although a large number of people who work for the organisation have a disclosed mental health problem, the charity does not experience unusually high sickness absence due to mental ill-health – in fact sickness absence is less than 3%. The charter aspiration to ‘not make assumptions that a person with mental health issues will be more vulnerable to stress or take more time off’ is borne out by these statistics – and also by Leeds Mind’s overall approach to mental health, which at its heart is positive and empowering.
A mental health charity is in a particularly strong position to take a positive attitude to mental health in the workplace – and not all organisations can implement measures such as these.
Perhaps Leeds Mind can best model good practice by acknowledging that all these measures are simply a work in progress.
No employer can say they have ‘achieved’ positive mental health at work – only that they continue to aspire to do so.
A Leeds Mind staff survey revealed in 2013 that more work was needed on supporting wellbeing (especially given the demanding nature of the work involved). As an employer, Leeds Mind still has work to do in this area – such as establishing peer supervision/reflection groups. To continue aspiring to the values of the MINDFUL EMPLOYER charter, the charity will monitor and review its approach to staff wellbeing and recruitment practices on an ongoing basis.